SVCS Says Time to Move Forward; City Council Work Session; Orcas Endangered; Flower Baskets; Gas Prices

SVCS Says Time to Move Forward

The Siuslaw Valley Charter School board yesterday released a statement addressing the letter of intent that has been at the center of discussion between them and the 97J school board. It says that though they believe they have adequately addressed the concerns of the Siuslaw School Board regarding their relationship with Hillsdale College they will be informing the college that they no longer will seek their teacher training services or their support in seeking a Headmaster for the school and are rescinding their letter of intent with the college.  Former Mapleton School District Superintendent Jodi O’mara is a member of the SVCS Board.

“We’ve been having conversations about the letter of intent and being a member school versus being a curriculum school and what that means so we just eventually decided, you know, we just need to open and if the letter of intent is the hiccup and what’s holding this whole thing up then maybe we just need to look at just being a curriculum school.”

O’mara says what it comes down to is that there just isn’t enough choice for students in the district and a classical academy will allow for that choice.  She says the decision will come at a cost though for the charter school. The letter of intent also came with training in the curriculum.

“Unfortunately we wont be able to have that training offered to out teachers so it will be a little bit more of a challenge for us to make sure that they’re up to speed.”

A task O’mara says they are up for.  She says hopefully the community will see their decision in the proper light.

“I think it is a gesture of good faith to our community and to the school district saying we hear your concerns.  We keep hearing the same concerns so lets just take that concern off the table and lets move forward in a joint venture to provide an option for families in our community for education.

One of the other concerns brought forth recently was an option for SVCS to go directly to the Oregon Department of Education to get approval. SVCS board member Kay King said that move would cause the Siuslaw School District to not receive any funding for the administrative functions of the district. However according to ODE Siuslaw would still receive funding for Special Education services which amounts to 5% allowance of the funding budget.  With their decision stated, SVCS is now awaiting a Charter School contract with the district.  They also requested that 97J consider using the Oregon School Board Associations expertise in drafting the contract.

City Council Work Session

Tomorrow morning the Florence City Council will hear from the Bridges Program of Florence during a city council work session. The program is an emergency shelter project of the Florence Emergency Cold Weather Shelter committee and the Nancy Devereux Center and funded through the State of Oregon and Lane County’s All-in Grant Program.  After the presentation the council will then take a tour of the project located at 5260 Highway 101 in north Florence.  The Work Session will begin at 8:45 at City Hall.

Orcas Endangered

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has decided to list Southern Resident orcas as endangered species. With it comes guidelines for how the decision will protect these whales. There are only about 74 animals left in this population of West Coast whales. Ben Enticknap is Pacific Project manager and a senior scientist with Oceana. He says ensuring the orcas have enough salmon to eat is the main barrier, and the federal government, Washington state, tribes and the public sector were working on this prior to Oregon’s listing decision.

“What this does is really prioritize Oregon’s work on this issue of recovering salmon and adds another layer of understanding and reason for why we need to be doing this now and doing it more urgently than is already being done.”

Enticknap says listing by Oregon could help the state get more resources from the federal government for salmon recovery. Southern Resident orcas already are listed as endangered federally and by Washington state.

Flower Baskets

As spring approaches the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce has opened their Flower Basket Sponsorships. The baskets that adorn much of Old Town and the Highway 101 ReVision Streetscape are $100.00 for a full sponsorship, but the chamber also has an option for donating as little as $1.00 towards the total cost of a basket and maintenance. Information about the program is available at

The upcoming arrival of spring also means that we will be paying more at the pump for fuel.  Over the last two weeks the nation has seen a rise in gasoline prices to the tune of 10 cents, 5 of which came in the last week.  Oregon has seen a several cent increase, but only a penny in the last week, however here in Florence the price has risen about 8 cents to $3.13 a gallon for regular.  Marie Dodds with AAA Oregon says the cause is two-fold, one being the switch to summer blend fuels the other being maintenance time for refineries.